August 22, 2005

the king of the Philistines his soldiers to save

untitled, by marti peterson

* top ten conservative idiots:

"4. Rush Limbaugh

"Two weeks ago I suggested that Rush Limbaugh should start taking drugs again because he was "much more listenable when he was high as a kite on 30 Oxycontins a day." (See Idiots 209.) Well there's some good news! It appears that Rush has taken my advice and is back on the hillbilly heroin.

"On Wednesday last week Rush was shocked and outraged to discover that people were accusing him of - gasp - lying. Here he is going straight into victimization mode:

"LIMBAUGH: ...apparently there is something that is out there misreporting what I have said. And of course, these people are reading that rather than listening to this program and choosing to believe it.

"Apparently, what's out there is that I said that Cindy Sheehan is no different than Bill Burkett, that Bill Burkett lied and Cindy Sheehan lied. They're actually out there, people saying that I am accusing Cindy Sheehan of making up the fact that she had a son and making up the fact that her son died in Iraq. And of course, I've never said this.

"Hmm. Perhaps Rush needs his memory refreshing. Here's what he said 48 hours earlier, on Monday of last week:

"LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.

"Wheee! Come on now - the guy has got to be high as a kite."

* Long, interesting post on the connections between Bob Dylan and Harry Smith. excerpt:

"After about seven years trying to retrace and 'fill in' this picture, I've decided that Marcus is right about folk music and Dylan's imagination, but he's only half right about Harry Smith and Dylan. Dylan did not learn Harry Smith's lessons directly from the Smith Anthology. He got them mostly second-hand -- that is, he learned them, but mostly in translation. I'm now convinced that the single most important vehicle delivering Harry Smith's peculiar message to Dylan in those early days -- the widest pipeline between Harry and Bob -- was The New Lost City Ramblers. I'm also convinced that it matters, this missing what I think of as 'The Ramblers Step.'

"Like Harry Smith himself, the Anthology of American Folk Music was peculiar -- perhaps even a bit insane. It was not a neutral, representative overview of folk music in America, but rather an idiosyncratic work of kaleidoscopic art that had little to do with folk music as it had previously been understood. Released in 1952, the Anthology was a collection of scarcely 20-year-old commercial recordings that few folklorists saw as folk music at all -- one cut is even from a Hollywood singing-cowboy movie. But the music sounded (and still sounds) strange, wild and wooly, intensely immediate, and was presented with a modernist, mystic sense of collage that, today, is hard not to see as 'Dylanesque.'"
"Clearly, the New Lost City Ramblers were crucial to the early development of Dylan's self-image as a performer. Among the earliest photos ever taken of Dylan as a young musician is a fine photo set by a member of the NLCR, John Cohen. In them, you see the young Dylan adopting various poses and personas, experimenting with his image, trying to please the eye of the Rambler's camera. Cohen was a student of the fine arts and a sophisticated image-maker -- it had been John Cohen who had come up with the name 'New Lost City Ramblers,' and he was thus the first person among many to admire the ambiguous, ambivalent, self-referential irony in the band's name. A few years later, Dylan addressed Cohen directly in the liner notes to Highway 61 Revisited (referring to, among other things, Cohen's apartment which had just been demolished to make room for the World Trade Center):

"you are right john cohen -- quazimodo was right -- mozart was right … I cannot say the word eye any more … when I speak this word eye, it is as if I am speaking of somebody's eye that I faintly remember … there is no eye -- there is only a series of mouths -- long live the mouths -- your rooftop -- if you don't already know -- has been demolished … eye is plasma & you are right about that too -- you are lucky -- you don't have to think about such things as eye & rooftops & quazimodo." [punctuation and capitalization are Dylan's]

* "What no one seemed to notice...was the ever widening gap...between the government and the people...And it became always wider...the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway... Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about...and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated... by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us...Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'...must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing...Each act... is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.'...But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed...You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father...could never have imagined." -- Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)


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